Witnesses testify in Whitney’s trial
Two Seton Hall students took the stand in a New Jersey court room on Wednesday to testify against former Seton Hall basketball standout Kelly Whitney and described a frightening scene in which the Chicago, IL native and an accomplice robbed the students at gunpoint nearly a year ago.
Although the students could not identify the men, they stated that they recognized the voice of Robert Mitchell, Whitney’s accomplice. Mitchell, who is also a former Seton Hall basketball player, pleaded guilty to lesser charges on the basis that he was an unwilling participant in the robbery and plans to testify against Whitney.
Whitney is being charged with 27 counts of conspiracy, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses, however the 28 year old maintains that he had no part in the robbery which occurred at an off-campus house in March of 2010.
According to statements made by the eight victims, six men and two women, Whitney and Mitchell bound them with duct tape, pistol-whipped several of them, dumped a pile of dirty laundry on one of the women, and then fled with cash, cell phones, digital cameras, and marijuana.
The testimony from Wednesday’s hearing, which marks the sixth day of the trial, suggests that Whitney was the more aggressive of the two during the holdup, while Mitchell was calmer and less abrasive.
According to one of the victims, Miles England, he, Mitchell, and Whitney all smoked marijuana earlier in the day in the same house. England, who said he considered Mitchell a friend, claims that Mitchell duct taped him and then told the group, “It’s going to be okay. You’re being real cooperative.”
The other victim who testified on Wednesday, Nicholas Tse, stated that the less aggressive of the two assailants, assumed to be Mitchell, said “be cool and no one gets hurt.”
Defense attorney Remi Spencer has continually stated that no DNA evidence or fingerprints of Whitney’s were found at the crime scene, however several victims have testified that one of the assailants wore gloves on the night of the attack.
John Melody, a former deputy chief in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, also testified. Melody, now retired, helped arrest Whitney at the Ramada Inn in Newark three days after the robbery. He claims that Whitney seemed to be on the run and Whitney’s girlfriend, who was with him at the time, “didn’t seem surprised we were there.”
The prosecution’s case was expected to wrap up today with Superior Court Judge Alfonse Cifelli ruling on whether or not Spencer is allowed to call several character witnesses to the stand on the behalf of Whitney.
John Lopiano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org